New Year will see start of progress in Seaton

THE New Year should see steady progress being made with the regeneration programme for Seaton, members of the steering board heard last week.

THE New Year should see steady progress being made with the regeneration programme for Seaton, members of the steering board heard last week.

Councillor Ray Franklin, chairman, said: "We have spent many years building towards creating a bright future for Seaton; we are no on the cusp of achieving it and I'm looking forward tremendously to the New Year and the progress it promises."

Meeting at Seaton Town Hall, the regeneration programme board were told that a number of key components of the town's renaissance should start taking shape during 2010, starting in the New Year with a planning application for the Tesco landfill operation. These would be followed by the move of the Tourist Information Centre (TIC) to new temporary premises in February and a detailed planning application for the visitor centre in March.

There was also recognition of the progress made with funding and land transfers at a recent meeting of EDDC's Executive Board, including the commitment of �1.8 million from the capital receipt to the visitor centre and cycle hub project, joint funding with Seaton Town Council and Tesco for a Town Manager and match funding towards the improvement of youth facilities.

Board members heard that there had been some confusion locally about the need for the TIC to move early in the New Year when the East Devon District Council deadline for vacating the current building had been advertised as October 2010.

Councillor Mrs Sandra Semple, Mayor of Seaton, explained that the town council had agreed an early move of the TIC to ensure the smoothest possible transition for the all-important facility, which is destined to be housed in the new Visitor Centre, due for completion in the summer of 2011.

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Whilst it was true that in October 2009 EDDC had given 12 months' notice to the TIC, it was likely that work on site would begin in May and that this would disrupt the operation of the TIC at a time when the summer season was getting into its stride.

To remove any uncertainty, it was therefore better to move the TIC into a new temporary home before the start of the season, so staff could begin the year in the same location they would be occupying throughout the summer. Whilst the TIC's new reception area at Seaton Tramway was smaller than the current accommodation, storage could continue at the Town Hall.

Councillor Ray Franklin confirmed EDDC's position that an early move of the TIC was desirable, despite the council as landlord needing to give its tenants a full year's notice.

Tesco expect to submit a planning application for the seaborne infill scheme early next year - with permission a prerequisite to the supermarket and other developments going ahead. Meanwhile, they are proceeding with legal and land agreements.

The Board heard from Tracey Guiry, Project Development Manager for the Exmouth and Seaton Visitor Centres, that the team working on designs for the Seaton building were hoping to submit a planning application in March.

She said it was likely that site preparation work could begin during the summer of 2010, prior to building construction work in the autumn, with completion by August 2011 - earlier if possible in order to be open for the start of the summer season.

Running alongside the planning and construction work would be the need for the visitor centre boards in both towns to submit business plans to EDDC. These were vital in order to ensure that the buildings, once complete, were properly run and sustainable.